Sabers units get the point: 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Richard Turner, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron engine technician from Nork, N.J., fastens a type-4 hydrant system to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a hot-pit refueling at Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan 28, 2014. Hot-pit refueling saves time, manpower and equipment usage by refueling active aircraft between training missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano/released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Richard Turner, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron engine technician from Nork, N.J., fastens a type-4 hydrant system to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a hot-pit refueling at Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan 28, 2014. Hot-pit refueling saves time, manpower and equipment usage by refueling active aircraft between training missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano/released)

An aircraft refueling gauge displays how much fuel is being fed to an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a hot pit refueling at Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan. 28, 2014. The 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron work together to fuel the aircraft. An F-16 Fighting Falcon’s internal fuel capacity is 7,000 pounds and 12,000 pounds with two external tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

An aircraft refueling gauge displays how much fuel is being fed to an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a hot pit refueling at Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan. 28, 2014. The 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron work together to fuel the aircraft. An F-16 Fighting Falcon’s internal fuel capacity is 7,000 pounds and 12,000 pounds with two external tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Brandon Clayton, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament technician from McKenzie, Tenn., and Staff Sgt. Lawson Chauncey, 52nd AMXS weapons team chief from Cocoa Beach, Fla., follow the maintenance checklist to inspect an F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons system on Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan. 28, 2014. Checklists detail every aspect of what to check and repair before the aircraft is deemed safe to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Brandon Clayton, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament technician from McKenzie, Tenn., and Staff Sgt. Lawson Chauncey, 52nd AMXS weapons team chief from Cocoa Beach, Fla., follow the maintenance checklist to inspect an F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons system on Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan. 28, 2014. Checklists detail every aspect of what to check and repair before the aircraft is deemed safe to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David Gondek, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons technician, inspects an F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons system on Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan. 28, 2014. The Aircraft is fitted with one 20 millimeter multi-barrel cannon with 500 rounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David Gondek, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons technician, inspects an F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons system on Spangdahlem Air Base, Jan. 28, 2014. The Aircraft is fitted with one 20 millimeter multi-barrel cannon with 500 rounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The 52nd Fighter Wing has more than 30 units on and off base, working day-in and day-out to fulfill the mission of defending American and allied interests and building partner capacities.

Throughout the year, 52nd FW Public Affairs will highlight each of the wing's units as together they serve a critical role in fulfilling this mission.

Long, hectic hours; short-notice schedules; limited lunch breaks, accompanied by the smell of jet fuel and hydraulic fluid on everything you own.

But, throughout it all, you take it all in stride knowing the jet is going to fly and keep its pilot safe.

That's the life of a 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airman.

The 52nd AMXS mission is to provide fully mission-capable aircraft through safe, reliable and professional maintenance.

"The mission of the Air Force is to 'Fly, Fight and Win!' but we can't do that without aircraft or the people who provide fully mission capable aircraft for our pilots to fly: the aircraft maintainers," said Lt. Col. Eric Morgan, 52nd AMXS commander. "The flight line Airmen who are outside, not in the safety and comfort and warmth of back shops, these are the guys in AMXS."

The 52nd AMXS consists of four specific shops, each with its own specialty that works together with one another to maintain the aircraft.

Production supervisors and expediters, Morgan explained, "are the men and women that make sure maintenance occurs and the jets are ready. They orchestrate what is the daily flying mission here at Spangdahlem Air Base."

Then there is the specialists' section made up of engine, avionics and electro environmental technicians.

Senior Airman Brandon Reynolds, 52nd AMXS avionics technician from Riverside, Calif., maintains the computer systems on Spangdahlem's F-16 Fighting Falcons.

"Anything that has a computer-based component in the aircraft falls under my job," Reynolds said. "Anywhere from flight controls to radar - all the electronic components in the cockpit and pretty much every system on the jet is my job to maintain."

The weapons section arms the aircraft for the sortie it is assigned.

"Basically we load weapons, missiles, flairs, anything that has to do with the armaments system of the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Ayala Acevedo, 52nd AMXS armaments technician from Levittown, Puerto Rico. "My job is pretty interesting; we definitely make a difference. The saying goes: without weapons, the aircraft is basically just like another airline's."

The support section takes control of checking out tools and special equipment to the maintainers.

The last group to make up the 52nd AMXS is the crew chiefs.

"These Airmen essentially launch and recover the aircraft," Morgan said. "They are responsible for a lot of maintenance on broken aircraft and scheduled maintenance as well."

Master Sgt. Poun Thies, 480th Aircraft Maintenance unit production superintendent from Green Bay, Wis., oversees the operations on the flight line.

"You have your worker bees, and you have your supervision," Thies said. "My job in supervision is to maintain and manage my personnel with whatever I'm allotted. Everybody is in a manning crunch so we have to do the best with what we have."

Thies went on to say that the ageing of the fleet is a big issue when it comes to maintenance issues.

"Anything can go wrong from an aircraft leaking hydraulic fluid or fuel, having to fix it, calling upon other back shops to help us out because it's more their specialty than ours," Thies said. "An aircraft has a soul and a conscience, believe it or not. If they don't feel like flying, they aren't going to fly. Some jets are a little more finicky than others. Sometimes it's a long fix; sometimes it's a short fix. Everything can go wrong in one day."

The 52nd AMXS is here every day, 24/7 maintaining the jets on the Spangdahlem flight line.

"A lot of Airmen think they have the best job in the Air Force, but what they don't realize is they have the best job in the world," Thies said.